Published 23 Apr, 2012
Under cloudy skies this morning, over 700 union members gathered in New York City’s Battery Park to protest American Airlines (AMR) legal motion that seeks to abrogate their collective bargaining agreements. From across the country, flight attendants, fleet service workers, mechanics and others came to New York to voice their personal opposition to the company’s abhorrent request in bankruptcy court.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants and Transport Workers Union partnered and planned today’s successful rally and protest just a block away from the U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse. TWU Local 100 based in New York City, was instrumental in securing police permits for today’s event.
Union members distributed t-shirts, signs, buttons and whistles, while safety marshals volunteered directing hundreds of brothers and sisters safely across the street. TWU members from local transit and rail divisions attended in support of their airline division members.
President John Samuelson of TWU Local 100 emceed and introduced speakers, Laura Glading President of the APFA and James C. Little International President of the TWU. A native New Yorker, Glading remarked on the struggles endured by American Airlines employees over the last 12 years, and specifically talked of the tragedy that took place just a few blocks away on September 11, 2001. “We worked hard to overcome that devastating day, we gave our hearts and souls to save this company from bankruptcy in 2003. We sacrificed so much to save this company.” Years of greed have caught up with AMR and brought us all to this point she said.
TWU International President James Little chastised AA’s management team for its mismanagement and not taking care of those who make an airline successful – its people. “Their focus appears to be on themselves and they have drug out negotiations for years knowing they could always file for bankruptcy,” Little said. “In Europe, when a company files for bankruptcy the first thing the court does is remove the management team that put them there, but not here! – No, not here! We gave them our blood, sweat, tears and our money – and this is what we get?”
Little believes that TWU, APFA and APA stand a better chance with a possible merger with U.S. Airways because its management team agreed to save thousands of jobs at the three represented work groups. Their business plan would keep TWU members skill level premiums and pay grades intact, rather than have employees downgrade to lower paying classifications. And, many of the cities American Airlines wants to close, U.S. Airways wants to keep open and sees potential growth in many of those locations. Little explained that the TWU will always look at all the alternatives that could benefit the members.
Union employees are angry as hell over management’s squandered costs savings given to them over eight years ago. The savings amount to almost $7 billion dollars today. Now in bankruptcy, their pensions, medical coverage, contractual rights and thousands of good paying jobs are at the mercy of the courts. Over the years, employees could do nothing but watch, as AMR executives arrogantly rewarded themselves with bonuses even when the company was unprofitable. But today they came out in force and sent a message to CEO Tom Horton and the others.
As protesters left Battery Park headed for the federal courthouse, chants began, “Enough is enough,” while whistles blew loudly, and hundreds of members carried signs and American flags flew proudly as they crossed Manhattan city streets.
The protest continued in front of federal bankruptcy court for more than an hour, where members voiced their outrage over the very anti -worker unfair bankruptcy laws the judge is following. These harsh laws basically give the judge one decision – whether or not to terminate and get rid of the labor contracts. This section 1113 legal process, which almost always ends in a favorable ruling for corporations, started at 10 am eastern at the court on the 7th floor in lower Manhattan. The trial is expected to last until earlyJune, with the judge making his ruling by June the 6th.